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Baylor Bears vs #8 Texas Tech Game Thread

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The Bears face the nation’s No. 1 defense tonight

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Your Baylor Bears are hosting the Texas Tech Red Raiders and KenPom’s top-ranked defense in the country on ESPN2 at 5pm CT.

Kendall has your breakdown.

Baylor and Texas Tech have had a number of rock fights in the past five years, and tonight will likely be no exception. The Red Raiders are locking opponents down this season to the tune of 82.8 points per 100 possessions, adjusted. That’s 2.5 points better than perennial defensive stalwart Virginia, who ranks second. (As an aside, 4 of the top 10 defenses by adjusted efficiency play in the Big XII. Sheesh.) Meanwhile, Baylor is already one of the worst teams in the country in effective FG% and turnover rate, where Tech’s defense ranks 1 and 11, respectively. The matchup looks bleaker as you break those statistics down. For this short preview, suffice it to say that Tech’s defense exacerbates all of Baylor’s offensive weaknesses, particularly without Tristan Clark providing reliable inside scoring.

Jarrett Culver is far and away the best player in tonight’s game. The 6-6, 190 lb sophomore forward is a capable scorer from all three levels, defends and rebounds at a high level, and has the highest assist rate on the team. His raw stat line of 18.8/6.9/3.8 is as impressive as anyone in the conference. Mark Vital and Mario Kegler, when not trading off center duties, will have their hands full guarding the league’s most versatile player so far this season.

For Baylor to succeed, they will need to shoot out of their minds again. King McClure, Makai Mason, Jared Butler, and Devonte Bandoo are all capable of hitting threes at a respectable clip. While they will likely never experience a cosmic alignment like what happened against Oklahoma State on Monday, those four players are capable of reaching 35% from deep on a regular basis as long as the offense is generating drive-and-kick situations. Unfortunately, a defense as stout of Texas Tech’s likely won’t allow Baylor’s offense to flow like it did against the Cowboys.

I anticipate Tech wins tonight by a margin between 8-14. Call it 66-58 Raiders. Tune in to cheer on your Bears, but don’t expect it to be pretty.

Sic’em in the comments!